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Creating Effective Learning Environments

Last spring a group of individuals from across the state met to identify the best ways to support schools in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The group felt strongly that schools need to focus on the implementation of a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) in order to strategically meet the needs of all students. In addition, the group identified four components that need to be in place in order for schools to meet the challenge of preparing students to be college and career ready:
  • Positive school culture
  • Powerful teaching and learning
  • Progress monitoring and data-based decision-making
  • Visionary leadership

Over the next few weeks I will be delving into each of these four areas more extensively, but today I want to take a closer look at the first component: positive school culture.
On January 8, 2014 the U.S. Department of Education (DE), working collaboratively with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), released, “a school discipline guidance package that will assist states, districts and schools in developing practices and strategies to enhance school climate, and ensure those policies and practices comply with federal law.” The package can be found on and provides schools with resources for the creation of safe and positive school climates.
Why did our work group feel that creating a positive school culture is one of the components necessary for the implementation of the CCSS? Because, as U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says, “Effective teaching and learning cannot take place unless students feel safe at school…” (U.S. Department of Education, & U.S. Department of Justice, 2014).
In the DE document, Guiding Principles: A Resource Guide for Improving School Climate and Discipline (DE, 2014), three guiding principles are identified as being integral to any effort to improve school culture:
1.     Climate and Prevention
2.     Clear, Appropriate, and Consistent Expectations and Consequences
3.     Equity and Continuous Improvement
Over the next week I will be discussing these three guiding principles separately and more in-depth and identifying why I believe schools should implement School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) in order to create nurturing, positive, and safe environments that will boost student achievement, overall success, and ultimately prepare students for college and career.
For more information on SWPBIS and MTSS, check out the resources available at
To schedule training in SWPBIS, contact Dr. Sheri or go to
U.S. Department of Education (2014). Guiding principles: A resource guide for improving school climate and discipline, Washington, DC. Retrieved from

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